While some of the heritage groups in Shetland have their own community museum or heritage centre, many more of these voluntary groups exist without a visitor centre.
These groups research the history of their area or a particular part of Shetland’s past, and can be contacted with queries or for further information on their particular area of interest.
In 2000, Shetland Heritage Association was formed as an umbrella group to "give a voice" to the voluntary heritage sector in the islands. There are currently some 36 member organisations in the association. The majority of the membership is comprised of local history groups which conduct most of the field work into the oral history projects which continue throughout Shetland. Other groups have helped set up independent museums and heritage centres; quite remarkably, six centres have met the stringent criteria of Museum Galleries Scotland, and are now fully registered museums. Many SHA members have a specialist interest in particular aspects of Shetland heritage, such as textiles, crofting, Shetland dialect, storytelling, family history and the Norwegian connection.